The Vermont Economy

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Trade negotiators have finished a round of talks in Montreal. Last September, representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada met in Mexico City, seen here.
Marco Ugarte / Associated Press

Trade negotiators from the United States, Mexico and Canada have wrapped up their sixth round of talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The representatives spent the last week in Montréal, renegotiating the free trade deal.

A nearly finished 660 square foot cabin that Yestermorrow Design/Build School was hired to design and build.
Nina Keck / VPR

Imagine if you could hike, mountain bike or backcountry ski from one end of Vermont to the other — and stay in heated cabins along the trail.

That’s the vision of the Vermont Huts Association, a new nonprofit that wants to make the outdoors more easily accessible.

On Monday, Keurig Green Mountain annouced plans to merge with Dr Pepper Snapple to form a new company: Keurig Dr Pepper.
Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Waterbury-based Keurig Green Mountain announced Monday that it plans to merge with Dr Pepper Snapple to form a new beverage company — Keurig Dr Pepper. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.

Bees Wrap is used as an alternative to plastic wrap and sandwich bags and is made by a team in Bristol.
You're So Golden

A Bristol entrepreneur's homemade food packaging product was growing nicely and sustainably until a Buzzfeed video featuring the company went viral last year. Sarah Kaeck, founder of Bee's Wrap, quickly ramped up production as the interest threatened to overwhelm capacity.

GPS systems and navigation apps sometimes face challenges navigating Vermont's roads.
Shannon McGee / flickr

A car that ended up in Lake Champlain made headlines after the out-of-town sightseers behind the wheel said they were steered out onto the ice by the Waze driving app.

We're talking about the challenges for navigation apps in a state like Vermont, with plenty of dirt roads and snowmobile trails, and a lower population of users. 

Mike Myers runs a U.S.-owned mass assembly factory, or maquila, in Reynosa, Mexico. Myers is seated at a desk with a Mexican and American flag in foreground.
Lorne Matalon / For VPR

There are fears in Mexico that NAFTA's collapse would seriously damage the country’s economy, not to mention exports from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico. That includes exports of clothing and microelectronics from Vermont.

Jean-Marc Landry, owner of Pratiko, holds up a wheelchair.
Lorne Matalon / For VPR

The sixth round of negotiations on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, is underway in Montréal. The outcome of the talks could have a significant impact on Vermont businesses that export goods to Canada and Mexico.

From left, Carl Powden of the Vermont Land Trust, Kate Sudhoff of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and Bonnie and Don Bullard stand before a backdrop of Bean Mountain - part of the Bullard Lumber property in Eden.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

A lumber company’s property next to Green River Reservoir State Park is one of the latest parcels conserved through the Forest Legacy Program. This means the Lamoille County property will be protected for perpetuity and public access is guaranteed.

Gov. Phil Scott has suggested capturing and selling phosphorus before it gets to the state's waterways and lakes.
VPR File

In his budget address on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Scott suggested Vermont should turn lemons into lemonade by capturing the phosphorous flowing into our waterways - and selling it.

Would that work? We’re talking about whether the suggestion is feasible, how phosphorus could be separated out and what the economics of the idea might look like.

Gov. Scott delivered his 2018 budget address before a joint session of the Vermont Legislature.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

Calling for consensus to avoid a property tax increase, Gov. Phil Scott's budget address outlined his spending priorities and principles for the coming year.

Vermont Edition digs into the details of just what the governor is proposing with his new budget, and how the math works out to pay for it without raising taxes or fees.

In anticipation of the tariff, SunCommon stockpiled solar panels to try to keep prices low for as long as possible. President Donald Trump enacted a tariff on imported solar panels and cells that many in the industry say will slow down growth.
James Moore, Courtesy

A new tariff on imported solar panels and cells has solar companies across the country, including ones in Vermont, worried that the that growth of the burgeoning industry will slow down.

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe strongly supports raising Vermont's minimum wage to $15 an hour over a period of years.
Bob Kinzel / VPR

The Vermont Senate could vote in the next few weeks on a bill that raises the state minimum wage from the current $10.50 an hour to $15 an hour over a period of several years. 

The legislation is a top priority for Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, but the plan is opposed by Gov. Phil Scott.

More than 100,000 Vermont workers don't have a workplace reitrement plan, according to AARP estimates.
USA-Reiseblogger / Pixabay

As many as 45 percent of Vermont private-sector workers don't have a retirement plan through their employer. To help Vermonters save — and to reduce reliance on public services when Vermonters go to retire — State Treasurer Beth Pearce is in the final phases of launching a new retirement plan aimed at Vermont's self-employed and those working for small businesses.

This 19th-century barn is located near Pittsford's town center. Baird and Betsy Morgan bought the barn, farmhouse and 20 acres of land last year and want to turn it into a community center.
Nina Keck / VPR

What if 20 picturesque acres of land in the center of your town became available, and you and your neighbors got to decide what to do with it?

Well that’s the question being asked in Pittsford, a town that straddles Route 7 between Rutland and Brandon.

A Craftsbury Outdoor Center rowing coach instructs a camper on Great Hosmer Pond from a motorized coaching launch.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is abandoning a rulemaking effort for Great Hosmer Pond. Instead, the department is examining new ideas for managing competing uses on all of Vermont’s lakes and ponds.

529 plans allow people to put away money for college and the contributions grow tax free. People who use them can avoid paying taxes when the money is withdrawn for qualified college education expenses.
wutwhanfoto / iStock

With the recent passage of a federal tax bill, the college savings plans — called 529 plans — many people use to pay for their child's education are changing.

Sen. Debbie Ingram, at podium, was among several Vermont senators Friday to call for legislation that would ban employers from asking applicants about their salary histories.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A bipartisan group of female senators has introduced legislation that they say will help close the pay gap between men and women.

An issue of "Vermont Life" magazine on a table.
Henry Epp / VPR

The state of Vermont has turned down nine bids for Vermont Life and will keep control of its promotional magazine.

a paper chain cutout of a family held up by two hands with a sunset in the background.
BrianAJackson / iStock

The 2017 "How are Vermont’s Young Children and Families?" report paints a mixed picture in terms of economic well-being, access to services and a range of health indicators.

The report also underscores the impact of parental substance abuse in reported instances of child abuse and neglect and in the number of children in state custody.

Poverty in Vermont has steadily increased over the last ten years.
Dirty Dog Creative / iStock

Poverty is on the rise in Vermont, with roughly one in nine Vermonters struggling to make ends meet. It's a trend that's steadily increased over the last decade. A new report shows more Vermonters are struggling to pay for basics like food, housing, and child care. What policies will best help those who are struggling the most?

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